Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Friday said he's proud of how local and state officials in his state have prepared for the onset of Hurricane Irma, and he believes they have learned well from the lessons of past hurricanes.
"It's a devastating storm," Bush told CNN's "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo. "I think that a lot of people, while we're preparing, we focus on the line that you show, the track of the storm. I think that's really not relevant. The fact is, we'll have hurricane-force winds all across the state."
Gov. Rick Scott, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and other state and municipal leaders have "done a really good job of keeping people informed," said Bush, and are preparing for what will be a "devastating storm."
Bush, who as governor from 1999-2007, has experience leading through several major hurricanes, and said that as Irma hits this weekend, "there will be the isolated examples of people trying to win the Darwin award, acting really stupid and making bad choices and decisions," but for the most part, "the great majority of people know exactly what they need to do."
Most hurricane deaths, he continued, happen after the storm hits rather than during, as people want to check their property and to venture out.
"People need to heed the advice of local officials, not go out before the waters have receded and make sure today they're fortifying their homes," said Bush. "If they're not going to evacuate, that they shelter in place, in a place that's safe."
There will be several challenges for state and local leaders following the storm, as there are "so many things that you don't think about."
"Are all the generators in place for maintaining the water systems of every municipality that's going to be hit by this?" said Bush. "Can we get chlorine to make sure the water supply is safe when there's no power? How quickly can you get the ports open to get gasoline barged into the state since we don't have any refining capacity? How do you make sure people don't hoard after the storm when there's going to be real shortages of lots of things?"
All of those things are learned through trial and error, said Bush, and he knows Gov. Scott understands the challenge and has a good team around him.
"The local folks are doing really well as well," said Bush. "There's literally hundreds of things that have to be dealt with post storm. Then you've got the long-term recovery issues where we rely on Washington more. President [Donald] Trump has done a good job showing his concern for the victims of Harvey, and I'm sure he'll do the same [for Florida]."
The key also is to make sure Washington is "here for the long haul, for the long-term recovery of our state," said Bush.
The former governor, a presidential candidate in 2016, later told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that as a governor, Scott's focus will need to start shifting to saving lives after Irma's strike is over, and to get the state back on its feet as quickly as possible.
Miami's metro area is expected to be hit particularly hard, and Bush said the overwhelming destruction of infrastructure during a storm with Irma's magnitude is one of the largest concerns, along with the fates of the people who will suffer.
"It's generally the case that the most vulnerable are the ones to suffer the most," Bush said. "One of the things that I think is really important is to, once your own family is secure, to make sure your neighbors are okay. There are a lot of people that just live their lives in isolation of one another, and the post storm time is for all of us not to say it's the government job."
Miami is a densely populated area, said Bush, and there are many people "that live in poverty that are one paycheck away from having real problems. We won't have power. It means you won't have food. All of these things come into play, particularly for people who have little resources. And so this is a time for all of us to step up."
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